Archive for November, 2018

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Betfair punters now put the chances of a 2019 Brexit referendum at 40%

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Inevitably much of the current UK political betting activity has been focused on Brexit and particularly whether or not we are going to see a second referendum before the end of next year. As can be seen sentiment has been changing and although the “won’t happen” option is still favourite it is getting tighter.

It is the “what happens if, as appears likely, the December 11th Commons voting goes against the government” question that’s driving it. Maybe we could get a situation where a second referendum is the only political option open to get away from the current deadlock.

    One thing that’s coming from Theresa May is the determination to avoid a No Deal Brexit and if she is still around early in the New Year after struggling with the Commons then maybe you could see even her backing the idea.

After all she’s changed her mind on similar big matters before. Remember her strong opposition to an early general election on weeks before she called GE2017. Labour, as we all know, have been very divided trying to maintain an equivocal stance that is all things to all men and women.

Mike Smithson




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It’s now down to an evens chance in the betting that the UK will leave the EU on March 29th

Friday, November 30th, 2018


Chart Betdata.io

 

How is this going to go?

Given the huge uncertainty that  hangs over Theresa May’s Brexit deal it is no wonder that punters are getting more nervous when risking their cash on the market that the UK will leave the EU on March 29th next year.

Back in October on Betfair the chances of this happening looked much greater and the betting trades that were taking place had this at a 71.4% chance. That’s now hovering about 50%.

Clearly everything has changed dramatically since the publication of the deal and the response to it. We are hearing claims that perhaps 100 Tory MP will rebel on December 11th when the critical vote in the Commons takes place. Given that they’re likely to be joined by almost all the other parties in the house then it is looking very unlikely, at the moment, that this will pass.

But a huge operation is taking place to try to win Tory MP dissidents round to the PM’s assertion that this is just about the best deal that’s possible. Day by day, it seems, another senior Tory cabinet minister makes their views known that they are backing her.

What should be worrying ministers is if an amendment is patched together between the various Commons factions opposed to the deal that manages to gather sufficient support to be adopted when the votes take place.

What happens if Theresa May cannot get her agreement through is unclear. Will she go back to Brussels, agree some cosmetic changes and return it to The Commons? Will it be the trigger for the moves to have a second referendum? Or are we heading for a No Deal and all the consequences at the end of next March?

Also is Mrs May going to survive as PM? Punters make it a 25% chance that she’ll be out this year which sort of assumes that there’ll be a CON MP confidence this side of Christmas.

Mike Smithson




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NEW PB / Polling Matters podcast. Can May win the ‘meaningful vote and what happens if she doesn’t?’

Friday, November 30th, 2018

On this week’s podcast the Polling Matters team, including the returning Rob Vance, discuss evolving public opinion on May’s Brexit deal and what happens if she does not win the ‘meaningful vote’ next month.

You can listen here:

Follow this week’s guests






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Now Corbyn and TMay are scrapping over whether the BBC or ITV hosts the Brexit debate

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

Corbyn’s position is a bit lame in the age of catch-up TV

The BBC is reporting that both Corbyn and TMay have accepted invites to take part in a Brexit debate. Only problem is that the former wants it to be on ITV while the latter prefers the BBC.

The BBC debate would take place at 8pm a week on Sunday Saturday while ITV’s would stage it an hour later at 9pm.

“Mr Corbyn claimed he preferred ITV’s bid out of “respect” for viewers who wanted to watch the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! final on ITV the same evening – 9 December. I want to watch it myself,” he said. It is understood the BBC debate programme would start at 20:00 in Birmingham, airing after Strictly Come Dancing and replacing David Attenborough’s Dynasties on BBC One.

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said Mrs May had accepted this offer “because there was a view on the government’s side that the BBC would address the crux of the issue, namely the deal”.

My guess is that the real reason Corbyn wants ITV and the Tories the BBC is because LAB thinks it would be easier to widen the subject beyond Brexit. A BBC debate is more likely to stick to the detail of the deal where the Tories obviously think the PM has the edge.

Which channel is going to win? Hard to say but I think that LAB is probably more likely to budge than CON.

Mike Smithson




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The terrible truth about Brexit

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

Young lawyers are given eclectic reading recommendations. I think the idea is to broaden their minds and to make them more commercially aware. Or perhaps their mentors just think they should read more. Some of the suggested reading, regrettably, includes business management books. The least scientific and most cynical books tend to be most useful in practice. I have often drawn on the early chapters of Parkinson’s Law in meetings. Who Moved My Blackberry is a how-to manual for all too many executives.

The Terrible Truth About Lawyers is Mark MacCormack’s take on my profession. He wasn’t a fan (like John Grisham, he could speak from the inside). One of the dangers he draws attention to is the problem of embarking on litigation. He describes it as being a wall of treacle. Once you’ve got stuck in it, you can’t move forward and you can’t move sideways. You can’t even move backwards.

You can probably see where I’m going here. Britain has embarked on Brexit. It now finds itself stuck in a wall of treacle. Theresa May has negotiated a deal that has united politicians of all stripes only in their distaste. She looks to be facing a three figure defeat in Parliament on it.

So what are the options? Her Leave critics fall into two overlapping camps: those who want no deal and those who want her to renegotiate the deal that she has struck.  Both of these approaches have the same problem. They require the EU to cooperate.

This is obviously so for the idea of renegotiating. Less obviously, “no deal” requires large numbers of mini-deals to be negotiated with the EU on a whole array of subjects, from use of airspace to continuing medical supplies. True “no deal” would be every bit as disruptive and disastrous in the short term as has been touted. To get out of the wall of treacle by going forward with Brexit, therefore, requires the help of the hated EU.

How likely is that cooperation? Not very. The EU has already publicly said that it won’t renegotiate. It can hardly do so without losing a good deal of credibility. In any case, how  could it negotiate if it had no faith that any new deal would be any more likely to meet with favour in Parliament? At least three different renegotiations have been touted. Where many cures are suggested, there is none.

While the EU would no doubt cooperate to mitigate the very worst effects of “no deal”, there is not enough time left to deal with every aspect and there would be little incentive for the EU to give discretionary effort by extending the notice period to make Britain’s exit as smooth as possible, at a time when goodwill would be as rare as rocking horse shit.

Remainers can’t feel any more smug. Their preferred remedy is to reverse course and stay in the EU. That, however, looks no more achievable without EU cooperation. Britain has triggered Article 50 by notice. The CJEU is currently considering whether Britain can unilaterally withdraw that notice, but the prospects do not look good. If so, Britain will be reliant on the EU deciding whether, and if so on what terms, Britain could stay in the EU.

How likely is that? Formally, the EU has the position that it would be only too pleased to see Britain return to the fold. In reality, that looks open to doubt. Britain remains split down the middle on the subject. Leavers were never exactly enthused about the EU and now are ready to form insurrectionary militias. Does the EU really want a member state with such a large disaffected grouping? Really?

Then there is the question of the price for that consent. Presumably Britain’s rebate would go. What else might be extracted for the price of continued admission? If each member state’s agreement is required, each member state may seek a price for its acquiescence.

So Britain has embarked on a course of action on which it is now trapped, only able to go forward on the negotiated but unpopular deal or with the cooperation of the EU, which may well not be forthcoming or only forthcoming on highly unpalatable terms.

What of a referendum? That is merely a route for choosing between different options Before one is offered, the government had better make sure that the options offered are all available.

Blanche Dubois announces, at the climax of A Streetcar Named Desire: “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”.  If Theresa May’s deal is shot down by Parliament, Britain is now in that position.  Blanche is then carted off to the lunatic asylum. Britain may already be there.

Alastair Meeks




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“Ken Clarke” takes on the man who failed to get 48 CON MPs to support his oust TMay move

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

The Tory EU wars part 373



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TMay is the odds-on favourite to win a TV Brexit debate with Corbyn

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

TMay is the betting favourite to overcome Labour leader Corbyn if the two clash in an TV debate on the proposed Brexit deal.

The online bookmaker Betway, sides with the Prime Minster at 4/6 over Corbyn, 11/10, with the pair expected to exchange views ahead of Parliament’s vote on the Brexit deal on Tuesday 11th December.

Outside of the big two, it’s the Scottish National Party that Betway believe could be involved in the debate, with leader Nicola Sturgeon just 5/2 to secure a place on the panel.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable comes next but at much bigger odds of 7/2, while Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price is 13/2 to give Wales a voice in the debate.

Betway expect around eight million to tune in, offering odds of 5/6 for viewership to come in above or below that figure.

Mike Smithson




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Survation-Daily Mail poll finds growing support for TMay’s Brexit deal

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018


Now more support than oppose

The big overnight Brexit news is a Survation poll for the Daily Mail conducted yesterday which is being splashed all over its front page as can be seen above.

The big news is that on comparative questions there has been a significant increase in those supporting the deal compared with similar questions which were put by Survation in a poll on November 15th.

Clearly this is good news for Theresa May who has started to look beleaguered following the reception the agreement has been getting from party MPs. The general favorability to Theresa May on this issue is in broad line with the Times YouGov polling that was published in the middle of last week.

No doubt the Conservative whipping operation at Westminster, which is facing it’s biggest test for years, will be using these numbers as it seeks to persuade wavering party MPs to fall in line.

    Mrs May is being very much helped by the very different approach being taken by the new editor of The Daily Mail who replaced Lord Dacre in the summer. I doubt if the latter would have commissioned a poll like this and even if he had done he certainly wouldn’t have been giving it front treat front page treatment as above.

The 39-42% LAB voter split on how MPs should vote might help lead the party, to do what many have been predicting, to abstain when the big vote is taken.

The Betfair price on TMay going this year has dropped from 30% last night to 28% this morning. Back on November 15th it was 60%.

Mike Smithson